San Antonio Trip Report

Old Nov 30th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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San Antonio Trip Report

Day 1:

We drove to San Antonio from Houston the day after Thanksgiving. We moved to Houston only about a month ago and so are still very new in Texas.

Arrived in St. Anthony hotel at about 7.00PM. The light parade was scheduled for that night so we were concerned about finding a parking spot near the hotel. We didnít expect hotel to have its own parking since it is a historical building in downtown. We were therefore glad to learn that the hotel pays for valet parking for its guests! Those with affinity for everything historical would surely find the hotel charming. However, if you prefer newer lodging with modern facilities, then this hotel would not suite you. It certainly needs some renovation and upgrades, particularly the bathrooms. The size of the rooms is smaller than the standard, fixtures in bathrooms are old and water temperature in shower does not stay constant. However, its proximity to River Walk area and free valet parking are its biggest advantages.

We dropped our luggage in the room and rushed for River Walk. It is only a few steps away from the hotel and we approached it at the bridge near the intersection of Presa and Houston streets. Due to the light parade, there was a large crowd, particular on the bridge. There, we learned that only those with the tickets for the parade were allowed to access the river. Bummer!

We were starving by then and noticed Landryís seafood restaurant just there by the bridge. Needless to say, restaurant was busy and full to its capacity; we were told of up to 45 minutes waiting period. Then our luck changed. The waitress allowed us to access the river through the restaurant while we waited for the food. We found some empty chairs right by the water and grabbed them!

It was then when I took the first good look at the scene. One level below the street, the river is more like a canal with calm water and about as wide as one-lane road. Along the banks of the river sat multitude of people in festive food. More glanced down the river from the bridge above us. The matured Cypress trees along the river had been adorned with hundreds of colorful light bulbs. Cobblestone paths led to restaurants, cafes and bars housed in Texan and Spanish style buildings that lined both sides of the water. Then we heard cheers and saw the first boat of the parade approaching. The boat had been decorated with numerous small light bulbs, whose light reflected back from the water of the river. Music blared out of the large speakers on the boat, and it occupants danced and waved at the spectators. The whole scene could have come right out of a Disney themed park or a themed Las Vegas hotel, except that it was real.

After a few similar boats had passed, we were called in for the dinner. When we came out, the parade was over. The crowds had dissipated, and chairs had been folded. Instead, throngs of people leisurely strolled along the river. Other sat in the patios or on the sidewalks with their food and drinks on candle-lit tables. Several boats filled with camera-wielding tourists cruised in the water. I noticed Starbucks across the river, and so we crossed the bridge to fetch a cup of joe. We then joined others in the walk along the river. The lush foliage and tropical plants alongside the path made it feel more like a jungle-walk. The cobblestone path along the river is rather narrow and winding, as the river meanders through the city. We walked up to the point that is probably the most-photographed spot along the river. Dozen or so brightly colored umbrellas outside cafes and restaurants shaded the customers. The Hilton hotel with lighted balconies loomed in the background and an arched storybook style footbridge completed the scene.

It was about 11 PM and protests from our baby reminded us that it was too late. As we returned to our hotel, we made a brief stop at the beautifully landscaped water gardens of Hyat hotel, consisting of a series of waterfalls and pools. A soothing place to end the day!
qzseattle is offline  
Old Nov 30th, 2004, 04:58 PM
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great post. thanks
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 05:33 AM
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Glad you enjoyed the light parade, qz. I have always loved the River Walk area.

Did you get to see some other sights in S.A.?
Statia is offline  
Old Dec 1st, 2004, 06:08 AM
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Sounds like fun... I've never been on the riverwalk during a parade. Glad you are taking time to explore Texas. We natives are sometimes blind to its charms. Traveling during the fall in Texas is fabulous. You are smart to do it while your child is young, before you get locked into planning trips around the school year.

Old Dec 1st, 2004, 03:18 PM
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Thanks guys!

Indeed, the parade itself was quite similar to other light parades that happen in other cities, except that it was happening on water instead of on a road. However, the overall ambience created by the river, the holiday lighting, crowd and Texan/Spanish architecture rendered the experience rather unique.
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